November 23, 2007

Finding Conspiracy Blogs… and The Truth

Snopes and Urban Legends are specialists who debunk the urban legends, myths, and conspiracies that plague us worldwide. I highly recommend anyone with email or a blog check the facts before forwarding or blogging.

Snopes offers a constantly updated Hottest 25 Legends (with a feed) page, which currently features the most popular myths, urban legends, and conspiracy theories like Barack Obama and the National Anthem, The Golden Compass (anti-religon), ‘Life Is Beautiful’ Virus, Strawberry Quick (drug-filled candy), and Vicks VapoRub on children’s feet stops coughs.
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Does Your Blog Community Begin at Home?

If your blog is struggling to get more than one or two comments, perhaps you can look around you for the answer?

Consider how many multi-author blogs are out there now. How many of those bloggers take time to read each-others posts and comment on them?

One of the great things about Performancing for me is no matter who has been in charge, the blog has been run and populated by people who like and support each other. I believe this comes through to the audience.

It’s not about in-jokes and banter. Just fostering the community feeling starting with your own bloggers and friends. Readers will then take that as a lead. Providing the inter-blogger discussions are inclusive and encourage others to provide their point of view, I can only think the conversation would grow.

What if you are not a multi-author blog?

  • Encourage your online friends and contacts to drop by and comment.
  • Perhaps trade comments with another blogger in your niche?
  • Put out a call for comments on your Twitter feed
  • Encourage your forum and Facebook contacts to take part.

Wherever you go and whatever you do online, you should be making friends. Those friends could be valuable allies in growing a sense of community on your blog.

Do your fellow bloggers and friends support your comment area? Should multi-author bloggers comment on each others posts? Please share your thoughts in the comments …

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November 22, 2007

Shiny Media offering six-month video internship prize, courtesy of LG (again)

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Apologies to my US friends peeking over from above a turkey-laden table, but here’s some more indulgence for us Brits.

Shiny Media has launched a second competition in association with LG, this time offering two lucky people a six-month video blogging internship.

If presenting is your thing, then simply shoot some footage of you at your best. If you prefer video editing, no problem. Take some of the supplied raw footage and turn it into a masterpiece.

You’ve got about three weeks or so to submit something, with the competition closing on 14th December.

The two lucky winners will receive training by top talent in video blogging, the opportunity to contribute to videos that are watched by a daily audience of thousands, an all expenses paid trip to Barcelona to cover the 3GSM World Congress next year, a blog on which you can share your experiences, and a new LG Viewty phone.

Unfortunately, it’s only open to those in the UK (you’ll be working at Shiny HQ in London). For much more information about the competition, visit the official competition web site: LG Video Media Talent Award, or visit the YouTube channel to view the videos and vote.

Disclosure: Andy writes for several of Shiny Media’s blogs

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LG searches for European mobloggers to capture “style of Europe”

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Consumer electronics company LG, who have recently started making great mobile phones, are currently running a competition in five European countries, trying to find the ten best mobloggers to capture images of people which best shows off the style of that particular country.

Mobile phone users in Germany, Spain, the UK, France, and the Netherlands, have been taking pictures and posting them, with a subject, to the City Clickers web site.

The ten people (two from each country) who snap the best photos will win a new LG Viewty phone, plus their bill paid for two months, and training on how best to use the phone.

It’s been running for a couple of weeks now, and closes at midnight CET on Sunday 25th November 2007. So you Europeans still have time to get out there this weekend and snap some stylish shots.

(Via Tech Digest)

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Blog Your Passions?

So you are new to blogging, and have thankfully decided not to chase after high paying keywords just to make a quick buck. Instead, you are going to blog about your hobby or passions. On other posts, I have said this is a great idea, but after reading the article, my wife turned to me and laughed saying, “but you don’t do most of those things anymore…”

The sad part was, she was right. Since changing my passions into what amounts to work, I rarely get time to keep up on all the latest news, as well as taking the time to enjoy actually doing those things.

One of my biggest passions is science fiction, and it has been since I was very young, but in the last two years, I haven’t taken much time to involve myself in the science fiction community, or really stay up to date on what is going on. Another of my biggest passions is technology, another thing I don’t really keep up with today. It seems I only involve myself in these things enough to blog about them, and there has been a shift in my perceptions due to that.

It is with this in mind that I recommend everyone use any time off they have to go back, and take the time to rediscover what made you enjoy your hobbies and passions so much because if all the things you enjoy in life become work, then what’s the point?

Blogging should be something you enjoy, and an avenue for expression. If it isn’t something you enjoy, take a break, re-assess, and come back with more knowledge and passion than before. We will all be here online when you get back, despite what the “experts” may tell you.

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The Economics of Conspiracies

Last year, Sam Vaknin Ph.D. wrote in “The Economics of Conspiracy Theories” on the American Chronicle that many are profiting from conspiracy theories, writing books, selling magazines and television shows, even movies, becoming a celebrity for their conspiracy plots as the source or participant. In and of itself, the business of making money with conspiracies might be a conspiracy in itself:
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November 21, 2007

WordPress Wednesday News: WordCamp Melbourne Sold Out Success, WordPress 2.4 Delayed, Security News, Rumors and Scams, and More

WordCamp Melbourne was a sell out and a success. WordPress 2.4 delayed a over a month. More WordPress security news and tips you must use. Rumors flying about WordPress as a big money maker and Matt Mullenweg spending silly, and his mother reprimanding him. And more WordPress news you can use.

WordPress News

WordPress 2.4 Will Be Released January 24, 2008: Ryan Boren announced that WordPress 2.4 will now be released on January 24th instead of December 12, 2007. WordPress 2.4 will feature the new Administration Panels design, which will change the way the backend of WordPress works.

WordCamp Melbourne: Australia’s WordCamp Melbourne November 17 was a sold out success from the sounds of it. Here are some resources about the WordPress event:

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Do You Multi-Media?

OMG I look roughBlogs are traditionally about text but they don’t have to be. I realized today that I have hidden behind the written (well, typed) word out of fear. Fear of looking and sounding bad.

The thing is, if you are a bit camera-shy like me, there are other options to enable a bit of multimedia into your blog. read more

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November 20, 2007

The Value of Free Information?

More and more I am coming to the realization that while people expect things to be free, they don’t necessarily respect, or place value on something that is free.

I recently set up a free online video chat where people could ask me blogging related questions. A few people I talked to thought it would be a great idea, and that people would love to participate in such an open discussion, as well as hopefully learning from my over two years experience as a full time blogger, but other than a few people, most of which I already know and stopped by to show their support, the video channel was empty. It really didn’t work out as well as I had hoped.

Sure, it could have been a number of other factors, but it really showed me that the community doesn’t really respect free things. I then added the video option to one of my paid consulting pages, and have had more requests for it since then, than I ever had when it was a free thing I was trying. As soon as I put a monetary value on my time and effort, people started to respect the offering much more.

A friend of mine, Mark, has decided that because of the community response, he is reconsidering giving away free PHP scripts for people to use. It seems that if the community doesn’t respect people willing to freely give out their knowledge, then they become disenchanted, and no longer take the time to create free things for people to use. And this is really understandable to me.

Flipping this around, there are so many online e-books that will set you back hundreds of dollars to teach you how to make money from your blog, rank well in search engines, or get super amounts of traffic, and people buy them in droves. Does that mean that the paid e-book would have more value than a free one? Or do people just assume that the higher the price, the higher the quality and value?

It is an interesting problem, and something I only see getting worse as the web continues to increase as a popular choice for business opportunities.

If you place a high value on free information, free blogs, free scripts, and free services, then make sure you let the creators know. A thank you from their user base might go a long way to continue to give them the drive they need to produce, support and otherwise create the things we take advantage of every day.

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The Viability of Micro-Tipping

I recently stumbled upon ScratchBack, one of the latest projects by Jim Kukral. ScratchBack presents itself as an online tipping system that lets your readers send you small payments for a link and several lines of text on your blog or website.

ScratchBack is an online “tipping” system. It allows you, the publisher, to accept tips and “give back” links* or images* in return.

You name your price on your tips, and you earn money from every interaction through our easy-to-use automated system. It’s free to sign-up, and you can have a TopSpot widget on your website or blog in minutes.

Think of it as a mix between text link ads and a tagboard. Readers get to post messages, but unlike a free-for-all tagboard, anyone who would like to leave a link and a message would have to pay for the space. Rates can range from anywhere as small as $1 (or less?) per link, to as high as you want. And the duration of each “message” can last for as short as a day, to a week, to a month, or until newer messages bump off the older ones.

This made me think about the viability of this as a model for blog monetization. Then it came to me. Aggregating the small stuff can lead to bigger stuff. Most of you would know of this concept already as one of the oft-used (and over-used) concepts of new media: the long tail.

More of the small stuff results in big stuff

Having dinner out yesterday evening, the family came across a small store that sells stuff for 50 cents apiece (or the equivalent in my local currency). You have all sorts of simple kids’ toys, household implements, hairbands, pens, notepads, notebooks, folders–name any cheap stuff, they have it. One would tend to think these things are so inexpensive it’s probably worth grabbing a few. And at these prices, our minds would be conditioned to think these are mostly necessities anyway, or at least stuff convenient to have around (my desk is constantly running out of good pens and notepads, for instance).

Our purchases totaled about $10, I think. So much for cheap 50-cent items.

What I mean is that if the price is low enough, consumers or buyers would consider it negligible enough that a purchase decision shouldn’t be too hard. In terms of link advertising, I would carefully weigh my options and choices, were I to pay for links or ad space somewhere in the tune of hundreds of dollars. However, I wouldn’t think twice about tipping a good blog with a buck for a few lines of text.

Sure, I can get a free link by writing a comment on a post. But if it’s convenient enough (meaning I wouldn’t have to go through ten sign-up steps just to send that one measly dollar), then I’d probably be happy to part with a small sum. And I get that warm, fuzzy feeling of having made a fellow blogger one dollar richer.

And for a blogger, having a handful of micro-tips per day could add up to good money each month. Probably enough to pay for hosting, bandwidth, DSL bills, or perhaps a spiffy new blog theme. Hmm, micropatronage campaigns might be a good idea after all.

Of course, there are arguments against blogging for tips, which can be a hit-or miss thing (remember this experiment way back?). But then this system isn’t exactly for donations per se, since tippers get something in return. I’ve seen a lot of “tip this blogger” PayPal buttons out there and I tend to ignore them. Yes, some ask for regular subscriptions, but unless I get added value out of my tip or subscription, I probably won’t bite. So this ScratchBack system seems to be more interesting than plain ol’ tipping.

Would you try out ScratchBack? And would you think such a system would prove to be a viable means of monetizing blogs? And would you agree with me that feeling warm and fuzzy all over makes blogging worth it?

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